Want to know who's heating up for a big season on the hardwood? Insider is tapping into John Hollinger's projected Player Efficiency Ratings to see who's trending up and down across the NBA. Ric Bucher rounds out the report by examining a pivotal player you'll want to watch as the season approaches. The series continues with the Boston Celtics.
Last season, the Celtics officially replaced the Detroit Pistons as the East's answer to the San Antonio Spurs: The Celtics were a team greater than the sum of its parts, with execution and cohesion allowing them to soldier on with backups and limited players getting big minutes. Then this summer, they even messed with young point guard Rajon Rondo's head by dangling him in trade talks, the same way San Antonio was ready to ship off Tony Parker for Jason Kidd once upon a time. So can the C's replicate the Spurs in the every-other-year title rhythm as well? The No. 1 question, of course, is how much Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, both of whom will have more than 40,000 minutes on their legs by Christmas, have left. If new additions Marquis Daniels and Rasheed Wallace are luxury items off the bench to spell those two, the Celtics are formidable. If Daniels and Wallace have to be staples of the Green diet, well, look to the Spurs' leaning too heavily on newcomers for that answer, too.
To see which player is taking off, which is crashing to earth and which name you'll need to know for the 2009-10 season, you must be an ESPN Insider.